Businesses with ambitious development plans could benefit from a new round of funding which kick-starts projects and boosts growth. The latest round of the Growing Places Fund is making £1 million available in interest-free loans to support infrastructure projects.
Projects could include development of commercial space including retail, housing or connections that will lead to more investment, regeneration and job creation. There is no upper limit for loans, which are interest free, though the minimum amount is £50,000.
The Government fund is delivered by the county council on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Previous projects using the fund have included office developments, and advanced manufacturing facility, student accommodation and infrastructure provision for industrial development.
The fund supported the expansion of Dunston Business Village, close to Junction 13 on the M6. The award-winning business park is completely occupied with a long waiting list. It has attracted a broad range of companies from all over the UK – relocating to Staffordshire and creating more jobs locally.
In order to meet the high demand for office space, Dunston Business Village added over 50,000 sq ft of office space. The development more than tripled its size. Managing director Adrian McLaughlin said: “I wanted to create an environment where businesses wanted to be and where people wanted to work.
“Most of our businesses employ between one and 60 people and the feedback I receive is how they all enjoy spending their working day here and that Staffordshire is a great location.
“Without the Growing Places Fund, we would not have been able to meet the high demand for our office space, within a reasonable time. It has enabled us to expand at a much quicker rate, which in turn has allowed our clients to expand and take on more employees. The fund has been a great success for our business and has certainly made a dramatic difference to our ability to meet demand.”
Use of the Growing Places fund to support the Dunston Business Village expansion was so successful that Adrian had a second loan application approved to expand the site even further. Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economic growth Mark Winnington said: “The Growing Places Fund has made a real difference to a range of businesses since it was launched and is now in its 12th round.
“It has enabled extensive development which has brought in business and created jobs. Dunston Business Village is a real Staffordshire success story and expanded to provide a base for even more small businesses which play a vital part in the local economy.
“Adrian and the team at Dunston have done a fantastic job in creating the best environment for these businesses to operate and thrive.”
LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “The Growing Places Fund is a great scheme providing interest-free or very affordable finance to help local businesses grow and thrive. This funding can really help to speed up businesses’ expansion plans and have a very positive impact on jobs and growth.
“I would urge any firms considering growth plans and who think they could be eligible for support to contact us if they would like further information.”
Businesses can qualify for loans if they are planning a scheme worth £100,000 or more. They can take advantage of an interest free loan if they can repay the money within two years of their project being completed. Beyond that period interest will be charged at the lowest commercially appropriate level.
Interested businesses can find out more by visiting www.stokestaffslep.org.uk or by calling the Growing Places fund team on 01785 277706.